Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's (half of) a beautiful day!

Brad Lidge raised his mighty arm in triumph, and the Phillies won a playoff series for only the 5th time in franchise's 125 year history. Now that's something to celebrate! That the Eagles didn't hold up their end of the bargain (again) was the only thing that could temper the celebration (but only slightly). Let's face it, a series-clinching win for the Phils and an Eagles loss is way better than vice versa.

Pat Burrell was the hero, going 3 for 4 with 4 rbi's and 2 home runs. After a one out double by Shane Victorino in the third inning, Chase Utley grounded out - moving Shane to third base. Brewers' skipper Dale Sveum elected to intentionally walk Ryan Howard, bringing up Pat "The Bat" with 2 men on. Burrell absolutely crushed Suppan's 2-2 offering, and with his homer he also effectively crushed the Brewers' spirit. After Jayson Werth finished off the back-to-back job with a 400+ ft home run, the Phils were well on their way to a closeout victory in game 4.

Considering that Pat was colder than Naomi Campbell going into the game (0 for 8 in the series' first three games), to break out of his slump like this, and help propel the Phillies into an NLCS showdown with the Dodgers, had to be a great feeling for him. These could be the last games free-agent-to-be Pat Burrell ever plays for the Phillies, and it was really cool to see him come through in such a big way, and in such a big game. He also added an insurance home run in the eighth inning for good measure.

Jimmy Rollins' contribution also can't be understated. He hit a leadoff home run on the sixth pitch of the game from veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan, and that really quieted what had been a raucous crowd up until that point.

More than that, though, it helped relax the Phillies entire team on a day where they needed their offense to score some runs, if for no other reason than to feel good about themselves going into the next round.

After all, with the exception of the Shane Victorino grand slam in game 2, and a misplay by Brewer's centerfielder Mike Cameron on a Chase Utley double in game 1, the Phillies bats had been very quiet. We all remember how anemic their offense was in last year's NLDS against the Rockies, so it's impossible to understate the importance of J Roll's second career playoff leadoff homerun.

There are, of course, other names that need to be mentioned here. Joe Blanton, who was making his second career playoff start, was brilliant in six innings of work and surrendered only one run on a monstrous home run by Prince "I could eat a left" Fielder to start the seventh inning.

Blanton was very smart in executing his game plan. He did just what he should, given a lead by the offense: pound the strike zone to a tune of 72 strikes in 107 pitches. He didn't walk a single batter, and really went right at the Brewers' lineup, forcing them to earn their way on base. Ryan Madson was great in his 2 innings of work, getting out of a couple of jams while only surrendering one run. Brad Lidge was his typical, lights-out self, working around a one-out single in the ninth inning. But this day belonged to the longest tenured Phillie (and most often criticized), Pat Burrell, who came up huge when it mattered most.

- Murdock

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